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Superintendent of Wicomico County Public Schools Imposes Mask Mandate

At the August 10, 2021 Board of Education meeting, Wicomico County Superintendent Donna Hanlin announced the school district will require all students and faculty to wear masks indoors and on school buses, even those who have been vaccinated. The requirement only applies indoors or when transported on buses. While outside or eating, the masks can be removed. The Superintendent's decision took effect on August 11, 2021.

Superintendent Hanlin claims to have based her decision on recommendations from the CDC, Maryland Department of Health, and the Wicomico County Health Department. Hanlin stated: "Our goal is to keep our schools open, and to achieve this goal we need to adhere to the guidance of our health experts by layering multiple mitigation strategies."

Five board members verbally supported a parent's right to choose as it relates to masking children, which included Tonya Laird Lewis, John Palmer, Ann Suthowski, Gene Malone Jr. and Michael Murray. Playing both sides of the aisle, they informally supported the Superintendent's decision in the end.

Two board members who fully supported Hanlin's decision and opposed parental choice were Donald L. Fitzgerald and Allen C. Brown, Sr.

Why did the BOE allow the Superintendent to impose a mask mandate?

The majority of the Board of Education members supported a parent's right to choose, while supporting the Superintendent's decision. They cannot have it both ways. The members appeared to express their concerns of what the majority of citizens want- the right to choose, and not by force. However, they did not hold a formal vote to uphold the Superintendent's decision, while sending a confusing and conflicting message: "We are against masking, but really for it."

When asked by citizens, Board Chairman Gene Malone replied, "Since the decision in regard to masks is the responsibility of the Superintendent, no vote was taken. It is within her authority to do."

Her "authority to do" only goes as far as the authority they grant her. The document below is from page 5 of the WCBOE School Board Governance Policy BOE-GEN-PL-002.

The "Super" in Superintendent does not mean "Super Power."

The Superintendent's role is to advise, present, inform, and implement Board policy. She does not have both Executive and Legislative authority or the final say. However, she has a track record of crossing the boundaries of her authority and the board allows her. By relinquishing their authority to the Superintendent, the Board serves as imaginary figures that defeat the purpose of even having a board. As our elected officials, they are supposed to represent the will of the citizens - not the Superintendent or the school system.

Why didn't the BOE vote on the Superintendent's mask mandate?

The ethical thing would have been to listen to the citizens and vote as a Board to approve/disapprove the Superintendent's decision, but they did not. The reasons are political. An election is coming up, and they are trying to play it safe. The citizens are tired of these political games at the expense of our children. The Board has allowed the civil rights of Wicomico citizens to be violated by force and without choice. This is "Respiratory Rape." Our elected officials need to listen to the citizens and vote accordingly. They have an ethical responsibility to do so.

Here are some informative links on the facts about masks and school mandates:

Father challenges BOE on mask mandates:

Physician scientifically explains to the BOE the ineffectiveness of vaccination and masks:

Physician explains: We know these masks don’t work against viruses:


Contact the board members below and let them know how you feel about the Superintendent's mask mandate, and how they should be involved in this major decision.

WCBOE Board Members

Donald Fitzgerald -

Gene Malone -

Allen Brown -

John Palmer -

Tonya Lewis -

Michael Murray -

Ann Suthowski -

Fellows & Editors

August 12, 2021.

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